It’s safe to say that if you’ve never heard the name “Fortnite”, then you probably don’t have cable, an Internet connection, or children. Yes, Fortnite is really THAT popular.
The viral, free-to-play video game has transcended video games and infiltrated the annals of pop culture. In fact, there have been songs written about it, lawsuits as a result of it, and billions of dollars spent on it.
Where did it all begin, how did it get to be so popular, where is it headed, and, more importantly, what is it? Settle in my friends, because this is your comprehensive guide to the past, present, and future of Fortnite.
It’s hard to imagine Fortnite before it’s ultra-popular Battle Royale spin-off. But it wasn’t always the king and we’d be remiss to not at least touch on the origins of the game.
Actually, this storied game began as a four-player, co-operative survival game. The game — now referred to as Fortnite: Save the World — set out to combine Minecraft-like construction elements with third-person shooter mechanics in an all-out battle for survival.
June 2017 marked the early access release of Fortnite through the Founders Pack. Although the game would eventually be free-to-play, this paid early access offered gamers the chance to play Fortnite before it would be flooded by the masses. But it wasn’t until Epic released Fornite Battle Royale as a free standalone in September of 2017 for the game to find its wings.
Inspired by the runaway success of the 100-person battle royale structure of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Epic pivoted their strategy with Fornite and it paid off in spades. Fortnite Battle Royale would take Epic Games to an entirely new level.
Nowadays, when people talk about Fortnite, they’re talking exclusively about Fortnite Battle Royale. As such, we’ll do the same for the remainder of this article.
How Did It Get This Popular?
Fortnite is undoubtedly one of the most important games in the world right now. 125 million people can’t all be wrong. But the game’s meteoric success had to start somewhere.
While being free-to-play — especially when the competition retained a $30 to $60 price tag — and adding the unique building mechanics of Save the World to the tried-and-true battle royale genre certainly helped the game’s success, it was the streaming community that really ushered Fortnite into the annals of pop culture. More specifically, the Drake stream.
On March 14, 2018, gamer celebrity Ninja teamed up with rappers Drake and Travis Scott to play Fortnite. Through Twitch, they would stream their play session for the entire world to see. The stream racked up 628,000 concurrent viewers, which single-handedly legitimizing Fortnite as the trendiest game in the world.
Seemingly overnight, Fortnite became a household name. And the game’s success hasn’t shown any sign of stopping.
Fortnight Battle Royale
Fortnite Battle Royale is a third-person competitive shooter where players gather resources in order to build structures for competitive advantage. The game takes place on a shared battleground where up to 100 players vie to be the last person standing.
Rounds of Fortnite can be played solo or with teams of two to four people.
A round of Fortnite begins with a ride on the Battle Bus.
Using a randomly selected path, the Battle Bus travels over the map, allowing users to “drop” into the game at their desired starting location. Once a user parachutes to the ground, the fun begins.
The goal is to be the last person or team to survive the carnage. The most successful Fortnite players rely on a combination of building, evasive tactics, sharpshooting, and loot hunting to come out on top.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the storm. At the beginning of every round, the game’s safe area is relatively large. However, the storm shrinks the area during the course of a round. This brings the remaining players closer together.
You’ll want to keep an eye on the storm circle if you have any hopes of earning the coveted Victory Royale.
Where to Play
Wondering where you can log in and play a few rounds of Fortnite? In short, everywhere.
Since the launch of early access in 2017, the game is available on virtually every platform out today.
For PC/Mac players, Fortnite is only available through the Epic Game Store. For those not fond of the PC Master Race, you can also play the game Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
For a free-to-play game, Fortnite sure has generated a lot of revenue. Such is the magic of in-game purchases. Sure, you can get away with playing and enjoying the game for free, but you certainly wouldn’t be the first player to bust open your wallet and fork over some major cash.
The opportunity to spend money in-game is certainly there. Fortnite operates on an in-game currency called V-bucks. Though you can’t purchase better guns or a gameplay advantage, you’ll need to purchase some V-bucks for the emotes, skins, and battle passes.
1000 V-bucks will typically cost you around $9.99, but you can earn more by completing challenges available through battle passes.
The Fortnite Effect
We’ve already established Fortnite’s remarkable cultural impact on the world of hip-hop and streaming. But Fortnite’s cultural impact stretches much further.
In fact, social media analysts recognized Fortnite as the most important social network of 2018. It might seem weird to classify a video game as a social network, but it effectively connecting millions of teenagers from all over the world on one, action-packed platform.
Plus, there’s the viral dancing that’s made its way out of the game and into every fifth-grade classroom the world over.
Heck, Fortnite has even changed the way the masses attend concerts. On February 2, 2019, EMM DJ Marshmello held a live concert in-game, which was attended by 125 million players.
Fortnite has clearly made an impact on the video gaming world. The game has inspired a gigantic community of streamers, hosted countless international competitions, and completely re-imagined the business model for AAA gaming.
Much like platformers in the 90s, first-person shooters in the 2000s and MOBAs in the early 2010s, the battle royale genre has become the dominate video game genre of this day and age. As such, there are plenty of games — such as Apex Legends and Realm Royale — trying to cement their place in the genre alongside Fortnite. On the other hand, the battle royale genre has found its way into a number of established franchises — from Battlefield to Call of Duty to even Tetris — in an effort to ride the genre’s current momentum.
Thanks to Fortnite’s continued success with its battle passes and microtransactions, many game publishers/developers are gravitating to a similar live-service monetization model. This is being done in order to entice reoccurring purchases from players over the entire life of a game, rather than just at the time of purchase.
Love it or hate it, Fortnite made a permanent mark on the trajectory and business model of the gaming industry. How that plays out in the future is anyone’s guess.